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Give something special, something personal, this Valentine’s Day. There’s plenty of time to satisfy the sewing enthusiast in your life. Sewing supplies and books make great gifts, and shopping on Amazon.com is easy.
- Browse inexpensive sewing supplies on our Supplies page. You’ll be surprised at the short list!
- Looking for a reasonably-priced, quality machine? Check out beginner sewing machines.
- Books inspire with detailed step-by-step instructions. Read our Sewing Book Recommendations.
- Ask for an Amazon.com gift certificate so your recipient can choose!
Did you know that Amazon stocks millions of sewing items? You can’t beat that for selection, wherever your special person’s interests wander! We chose Amazon.com because it’s secure and convenient to shop for anything under the sun!
The first is a pattern for a chef’s apron. It’s a basic pattern, ready for you to choose a favorite fabric and to “flavor” the apron just to the cook’s liking.
The second free project is an oven mitt. Most cooks we know go through a few of these! With the addition of insulated batting, any quilting cotton fabric can brighten up a kitchen and make light work of cooking for one or for a crowd.
These projects make great gifts, even for those who simply prefer to watch the Food Network and let the apron and oven mitt decorate the kitchen!
Free Project: Chef’s Apron
Free Project: Oven Mitt
Check out our many Free Projects!
Whether you’re an experienced sewist or a beginner, the buildup to Halloween can be stressful. There are some basic supplies you’ll need to sew up a costume. Beyond that, you just need a little time. Remember that costumes need to be visible and safe, allowing trick-or-treaters to move freely and to be able to see to the sides and front. But Halloween sewing doesn’t have to master the same fitting and durability challenges as the clothing we wear every day.
Here are a few tips for quick Halloween sewing — a type of sewing that’s a little different from garment sewing, craft sewing, or quilting:
Happy Halloween sewing!
If you’ve got school-age kids, you know how expensive it can be to clothe them. Save money on back-to-school clothes by making up a simple elastic-waist pants sewing pattern in several fabrics that will carry kids into winter and beyond. Cotton, denim and corduroy are all good choices. Sewing pants will take only a few hours, and if you cut out more than pair of pants at a time, you’ll have a lot to show for your effort.
Boys and girls elastic-waist pants are the same, but if your kid won’t wear anything you’ve made from the “wrong” picture on the cover of the pattern, here are some choices:
- Simplicity 2484: For girls (up to size 14)
- Simplicity 1605: For boys (up to men’s sizes)
- New Look 6398: For boys (up to size 7)
- Simplicity 2290: Pajama-style, for boys, girls, men and women
If your pants are a hit, add patch pockets as an easy “upgrade” in your next versions. And if you’re concerned that your kids will wear bigger sizes than those listed, remember that at about age 4, kids begin to grow up and not out (they are no longer “all stomach”) and that means you can simply lengthen the pattern by taping on tissue paper.
Happy sewing! Happy saving!
At SewingStarter.com, giving back is one part of getting creative. We’re proud to contribute to the National 4-H Council in 2012. Over seven million kids take part in 4-H programs. Every U.S. county has a 4-H club, many with programs to encourage children to design and complete projects, whether from fiber or electronics. That has special interest for us creative types — dreaming big, planning, designing, and making creative projects are what we hope to inspire at SewingStarter.com!
Whether it’s participating in robotics programs, or sewing something special for the county fair, 4-H clubs help kids get creative to solve problems. 4-H is keeping kids empowering kids with problem-solving skills and the initiative to see their work to completion. National 4-H Council is a top-rated, trustworthy 501(c)3 nonprofit. Since its mission is to develop 4-H youth for positive change, by shopping at SewingStarter.com, you help contribute to this important work.
Photo: Youth in Wake County, NC use Geographic Information Systems to survey the nutrition content of foods in their area for Advocates for Health in Action. Video: National 4-H Council and story: Advocates for Health in Action
There’s no rule that you have to give gifts that say “Made in China.” Say “You’re Special to Me” by sewing up simple gifts. Our collection of free patterns are a great start. See what you can get going and get giving! Out of time or energy? Consider a gift certificate.
Bags, Purses, Things to Carry
Hand sanitizing/baby wipes carrier (Exclusive to SewingStarter.com)
Water Bottle Cozy (Martha Stewart)
Reusable Grocery Bag (D. Prakash)
Ladies’ A-line skirt (Martha Stewart)
Girls’ Shirtdress (Martha Stewart)
Ladies’ Plus-Size Top (McCall’s)
SuperEasy! Cozy Arm Warmers (Martha Stewart)
Pants for Toddler (Exclusive to SewingStarter.com)
Around the House and For Pets
Tasty Treat Appliques (Everyday Handmade)
Catnip Fishing Pole (Martha Stewart)
Holiday Stockings (McCall’s)
Menswear mice cat toys (Martha Stewart)
Chair-Side Remote and Magazine Caddy (McCall’s)
We believe getting started in sewing shouldn’t be expensive. You don’t know whether your interests will lead you to garment sewing, or to quilting, or to crafts. But every sewer uses the same basic set of tools on every project. One of those basic tools is the seam ripper, which takes out the mistakes stitches that all sewers make at some point.
This week we’re impressed with the prices at CreateForLess.com, where seam rippers range anywhere from $1.99 for a small travel-size seam ripper, up to to $6.79 for large and stylish ergonomic seam ripper. The same products cost more at your local store.CreateForLess.com offers free shipping for some orders.
Click the link below to check out their prices! Other sewing tool recommendations.
Summer has arrived! Celebrate the season with simple patterns that expand your wardrobe! Here’s a sampling of Simplicity dresses and skirts that are easy to sew and easy to fit. We’re a big fan of Simplicity patterns generally, because they feature timeless patterns with time-tested instructions. Remember that your fabric choices make all the difference in your look, so there’s no need for complicated patterns. If you want to master the art of making garments from a patterns, the Simplicity line offers great options. The patterns we’re featuring here meet our guidelines for maximum enjoyment and minimum frustration! For instance, most styles have only few pattern pieces to cut out. See our article on how to choose easy sewing patterns.
Fitting tip: There’s nothing more frustrating than cutting out a pattern to discover that it won’t fit you! So for beginners, we recommend that instead of using the standard 5/8″ seam allowance at the side seams, extend your fabric cut 1/2″ more to 1″. Wider seam allowances mean you’ll have a little more “wiggle room” to customize the fit for your unique figure! Later on you’ll learn more pattern-fitting tips, but for now keep it simple.
From Simplicity’s Summer Pattern line, we recommend Simplicity 1807, a flowing skirt (and shorts and pants too!) and Simplicity 1812 skirts with cool hem variations. Look for them at at Simplicity Summer 2012 Patterns.
Then there’s Simplicity’s Spring Pattern line, and we recommend the Simplicity 2004 tunic and Simplicity 1965 and 1996 which are skirts — one is fitted and other is full. All three are SewSimple patterns, which cost only $1.99 and are simple to make. See the Simplicity Spring 2012 line.
There are also some great choices for girls. From the Summer line, there’s Simplicity 1816 skirt (sizes 3-14). From the Spring line, the following will sew up fast: Simplicity 1837 skirt (sizes 7-16) and Simplicity 1836 dress (sizes 3-6). Click the links in Misses above to get to them.
Didn’t see a style you like? See See all Simplicity patterns. Happy sewing!
We’ve added a new free sewing pattern to our list. There’s no rule saying your laptop cover has to say “Made in China.” You can make your own! Measure your laptop computer or tablet and make this snazzy Tablet Sleeve. SewNews Magazine has provided a free flap closure pattern. Follow these steps from SewingStarter.com — the steps are similar to making a pillow form:
- Measure your laptop length (L) and width (W). Add 2″ to each measurement. Measure your laptop’s depth. Add that measurement to the width measurement. Cut 2 pieces to these measurements from fleece or wool.
- Before cutting out the flap pattern, make sure it ends at least 1.5″ from the bottom. If not, adjust the free flap pattern after you print it. Cut two from a coordinating preshrunk cotton, and cut one from a polyester batting. Position one flap right side up. Position another flap on top of it, wrong side up. Lay the batting on top of the wrong side flap layer. Pin and stitch on three sides, using 1/2″ seam allowances and leaving the top edge unstitched. Trim the seam allowance and clip into curves to allow easy turning. Turn inside out and press.
- “Quilt” a pattern onto each sleeve piece before you sew them together. Use a temporary marker to draw lines and then stitch over the lines.
- Position the two sleeve pieces so that one is 1 1/2″ inch above the other. This will make it easier to slide the laptop in and out of the sleeve. Pin and stitch from the point where the two edges align, using 1/2″ seam allowances and being sure to backstitch at beginning and end for stretch. The result is an envelope.
- Pin and stitch the right side of the flap to the right side of the sleeve 1/4″ from the raw edge. Fold the flap toward the right side. Press and stitch the flap close to the seamline, then again 1/4″ from the first stitching line.
- If desired, hand-sew one half of a large metal snap to the flap so that it faces the sleeve. Hand-sew the other half to the sleeve to match the mating snap.
Now you can carry your laptop from cafe to cafe in style!
Remaking clothing is nothing new, of course, but a downturn in the economy has generated a surge in creativity. Along comes Jenny Wilding Cardon’s book, ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs, to inspire you more. It’s all about using what you have but no longer want to wear in its current form, or finding things at a thrift store to make your own.
Of the designs in ReSew, we really liked a sweatshirt transformation called the Sleeveless V. Most people know that baggy sweatshirts are not our most flattering look! Trim it up a bit, add some flair, and you’re comfortable and hip! The resulting sweatshirt project in ReSew is truly tiny, but you don’t have to go that far. You can keep a modest shape and instead focus on the embellishments made out of the fabric that you’ve trimmed away — Jenny designed strips into a textured box — and add the suggested kangaroo pocket. For all of the projects in this book, remember to keep the original garment’s tags so you know how to care for the fabrics. Most wool sweaters, for instance, shouldn’t be machine washed or they will shrink.
Moving from the clothing aisles to the home dec aisles of your local thrift store , the Curtain Skirt ends up unrecognizable as curtains because you build in tiers. If you can find the right fabrics to layer, this will look luscious. We suggest natural fabrics instead of the polyester sheers.
The Diner Dress is great if you enjoy fitted dresses. The top (or bodice) is made from one found shirt (make sure it’s the wide enough for you at your skinniest waist measurement because this is where the new skirt attaches). The skirt is made from several more cotton shirts and is attached to the bodice at the high waist.
Some of the accessories projects in ReSew incorporate recycled sweaters. The Elephant Cuddle Cushion is one very cute example that would be fun for a friend’s child (or your child). Note that chunky sweater knits can be difficult to sew together so you might want to choose flatter knits.